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See cognitive complexity theory.


a structured collection of information that acts as a single unit with respect to storage and information processing capacity

claims analysis

An analytic evaluation method involving the identification of scenario features that have significant positive and negative usability consequences.

claims feature

An element of a situation or an interactive system that has positive or negative consequences for people in this or similar situations.


The original version of GOMS created by Card, Moran, and Newell (1980a). The “CMN” was added before “GOMS” when other versions of GOMS began to appear (e.g., CPM-GOMS and NGOMSL), to differentiate the specific representation used by Card, Moran, and Newell from the concepts in GOMS.

cognitive architecture

The fixed structure that realizes a cognitive system. It typically decribes the memories and processors in a cognitive system and how information flows between them. This is in contrast to the knowledge laid on top of an architecture to allow it to perform a task in a particular domain.

cognitive artifact

A manmade or modified tool to support mental activity. Examples include number systems, slide rules, navigational charts, and even language itself. While generally applied to a single individual, within the framework of DCog, a cognitive artifact is also a tool that supports the coordination of information processing between entities within a functional system.

cognitive complexity theory (CCT)

A computational cognitive architecture introduced by Kieras and Polson in the 1980s and used as the basis for NGOMSL. It was realized in a production system. More information can be found in Bovair, Kieras, & Polson, 1988, 1990; Kieras & Polson, 1985.

cognitive dimension

A characteristic of the way information is structured and represented—one that is shared by many notations and interaction languages of different types and, by its interaction with the human cognitive architecture, that has a strong influence on how people use the notation and determines what cognitive strategies can be pursued. Any pair of dimensions can be manipulated independently of each other, although typically a third dimension must be allowed to change (pairwise independence). (More exactly, a cognitive dimension is not solely a characteristic of the notation, but a joint characteristic of the notation and the environment in which the notation is used, whether based on paper and pencil or computer or even based on voice and sound.) Examples such as viscosity, premature commitment, and others are defined in the text. Note that in the cognitive-dimensions framework, dimensions are not evaluative per se, but only in relation to a particular type of activity; for example, viscosity is a problem for modification activities but not for transcription activities. See also cognitive-dimensions framework.

cognitive engineering

A multidisciplinary area of research concerned with the analysis, modeling, design, and evaluation of complex sociotechnical systems. It is sometimes also called cognitive systems engineering.

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